A “fact finding exercise” by the Department of Social Development into an allegation by Lisburn Councillor Jenny Palmer against Ministerial aide Stephen Brimstone has come to an end.
The Department will now decide whether or not to take disciplinary action after Mrs Palmer accused Mr Brimstone of putting undue pressure on her to vote a certain way in her capacity as on the Housing Executive Board.
The matter came to light when Mrs Palmer appeared on a BBC Spotlight programme earlier this year.
In an unprecedented criticism of the party from a serving representative, Mrs Palmer, who is a member of the Housing Executive board, told the programme that two years ago she had received a phone call from DUP minister Nelson McCausland’s special adviser, Stephen Brimstone, telling her to vote for the contract at a key board meeting.
Speaking after the show went to air, Mrs Palmer said she was “relieved” that it was all out in the open.
“I felt very under pressure for the last few years in dealing with this and I am glad it has come out,” she said.
“I have had a lot of calls of support from all over Ireland from different Parties and from some of my own colleagues.”
Following the programme, it was understood the DUP would be issuing an apology.
However, that apology was never publicly forthcoming.
In response to a request by TUV leader Jim Allister, the Department of Social Development undertook a ‘fact finding exercise’ to ascertain whether or not further action should be taken.
After requesting an update on the progress of the investigation, Permanent Secretary Will Haire wrote to Mr Allister confirming the ‘fact finding exercise’ had now been completed.
“I can confirm that the exercise is now complete and the Department expects to receive the report of the exercise by the end of this week,” said Mr Haire.
“Once the Department has had the opportunity to fully consider the report, a decision will be made on the appropriate next steps,” he added.
Responding to Mr Haire’s letter, Mr Allister welcomed the completion of the ‘fact finding exercise’.
“I’m glad this time-wasting exercise has been completed and trust the department will now get down to the business of dealing with the complaint made against Mr Brimstone following his infamous phone call to bully Councillor Jenny Palmer.
“There has been enough dancing around this issue,” he added. “It’s time to face up to it.”